Immersed in an environment awash with canards, splitters, diffusers and multi-element wings, standing out from the crowd at the 2015 Yokohama World Time Attack Challenge bordered on the impossible. This is a world where grip is king, innovation breeds performance and as such the limelight naturally gravitates towards the competitors bristling with wild new ideas or displaying dizzying levels of aero insanity.
But strolling pit lane in search of spotlight features, the familiar jellybean silhouette of Toyota’s flagship performance offering of the 1990s caught my eye.
In contrast to the hordes of outrageous and extroverted machinery, this JZA80 Supra appeared suspiciously restrained; an exercise in retaining an appearance relatable to a road car. In fact, the Supra looked like it could conceivably still be a road-legal car, right down to owner Nathan Townsend’s government-issue registration tag on the passenger side of the windscreen.
In typically welcoming WTAC form, Nathan was kind enough to talk me through the car, first explaining the Supra’s primary use revolves around circuit racing and hillclimbs at a club motorsport level. That explains the comprehensive rollcage featuring hefty side intrusion protection, consistent with builds employed in door-to-door combat.
A well-prepared interior to my mind is always indicative of a thorough build, and from within the hatch opening it’s evident the Supra falls into that category. From the NACA-ducted driver ventilation, to the 4kg Lifeline fire suppression system and even the transparent firewall (in the foreground of the shot) separating the cabin from the boot mounted fuel system and dry sump tank, no corners have been cut.
Despite its portly exterior proportions, the JZA80 isn’t a car well known for its vast interior dimensions. Nevertheless, among the jungle gym, Nathan hunkers into a deep Velo bucket seat, with a simpler item reserved for passenger use. A pair of Sparco 6-point harnesses ensure safety is a priority, and if you look closely past the seat backs on either side the rearmost units of the onboard air-jack system are visible.
The cockpit-style dash synonymous with the JZA80 echoes the exterior in its simplicity. Although now a mere gutted shell of its production-self, the dash and console houses the essentials and nothing more; a Racepak GPS/data logging dash unit, Turbosmart eBoost 2 boost controller, Sparco wheel and the shifter for the TTI 6-speed sequential gearbox contributing to a purely driver-focused space within the Supra’s glasshouse.
It’s always tough to resist making calls like ‘this will decimate all’ whenever a bonnet’s popped and Toyota’s boosted halo engine is presented in all its straight-six glory, but I kept corny quotes in check as it quickly became apparent the high build standard was retained between the front struts. With a stock crank at its core, the JHH Engineering prepped lump encompasses a set of Manley rods with JE forged pistons, all kept lubricated via a 5-stage dry sump setup to ensure oil surge fears are a thing of the past.
Cylinder head wise, JHH tickled the ports and fitted 1.0mm oversized valves, opened and closed by a pair of Crower Stage 3 cams. Mounted low on a custom-built steam-pipe manifold is a Garrett GT35R turbocharger, which in pushing 25psi into the 2JZ translates to a reliable 650hp at the rear wheels.
Enkei PF01 wheels measuring 18×10 inches at each corner conceal Brembo brakes all round; giant 6-pot calipers coupled with 330mm DBA rotors at the pointy end with slightly more modest 4-pot variants offering stopping power at the rear. High-end MCA Gold Series coilovers with remote reservoirs assure precise, tuneable suspension control.
Given the somewhat more restrained style of the Supra’s aero, it’s forgivable to think the car doesn’t quite appear quite as intense as Nathan’s Pro Am class peers do. While more consistent with an Open class look, the Supra’s custom front bar with carbon end plates is connected to the large rear diffuser via a flat floor, meaning that the car is eligible for the Pro Am segment of the WTAC competition. Nonetheless, complemented by that huge carbon rear wing, the JZA80 demands real presence on track, assisted of course by the distinctive 2JZ-GTE growl.
Finishing the weekend with a best lap time of 1:39.01 around the Sydney Motorsport Park circuit, the time attack bug has evidently affected Nathan. A solid result for a first foray onto the track for the Supra, there’s absolutely more in the pipeline for the cult-classic Toyota with further development promised.
Far from its past life of “an Auto Salon type car with three 15-inch subwoofers and shiny bling everywhere,” as Nathan put it, I have a feeling this isn’t the last we’ll see of one of the most immaculately prepared entrants in this year’s WTAC pit lane.